Honolulu Waldorf School was founded in 1961 by a group of friends who shared a deep interest in the work of Rudolf Steiner. Zena Schuman, Betty C. Wilson, Eric Wakefield, J. Edwin Whitlow, and Peter Lee had the vision, intentions, generosity, and actions to bring the school into existence and nurture its growth. It was through Zena’s friendship with Clorinda and Charles Lucas that the group acquired the parcel of Niu Valley land that is the lower school campus. During this time, the late Reverend Abraham Akaka gave the school its Hawaiian name: Kula Ho’o Mohala Pua, which translates appropriately to “school of the developing child.”
The first Waldorf School was founded in 1919 in Stuttgart, Germany, when Emil Molt, a wealthy industrialist, and owner of the Waldorf Astoria Cigarette Factory, asked Dr. Rudolf Steiner to help him create a school for the families of his workers. Dr. Steiner was well-known at this time for his ideas in education and for his spiritual-scientific research leading to an understanding of the nature of man and the world. This path of knowledge he called anthroposophy, from the Greek, anthropos (man) and sophia (wisdom).
Waldorf Education is designed to develop the full spectrum of human wholeness — hand and heart as well as mind. It aims to support a harmonious development of the three soul faculties — willing, feeling, and thinking — taking full account of the physical and emotional growth phases of the child. There is a particular emphasis on the development of the will during the first seven years. The children learn most by what is worthy of imitation, through activities. During the lower school years (Grades 1-5), the feeling life of the child is nurtured through the guiding authority of the teacher who integrates artistic, imaginative elements into the learning process. During the middle school years (Grades 6-8), the thinking capacity is just starting to develop. Math and sciences meet the budding intellect which later develops in high school. During the upper school years (Grades 9-12), the faculty of thinking is more directly emphasized by challenging the adolescents to individual judgment and to more conscious participation in their education.
Through Waldorf education, Rudolf Steiner hoped to cultivate in young people the capacities of heart, mind, and the strength of will that will enable them to meet the challenges of their own time and the future. He laid the foundation for an art of education in which the teacher, ever aware of the inherent dignity and individuality of each child, would strive to awaken and draw out the child’s individual gifts. This is in keeping with the true meaning of “to educate” from the Latin, educere, which means “to draw out” rather than to put in.